Web Standards

There’s been a lot of talk around the web recently about designing better web sites:

I’ve just spent a good chunk of my saturday working on this very site. Though it may look as nearly identical to yesterday’s Nedward, I’ve done some major overhauls “under the hood”.

  • Firstly, I’ve made a huge effort to more accurately separate structure from content. A lot of images are now specified in CSS, and stray <br />s rather than cluttering up the code.
  • I’ve improved the semantics of the site. Bye Bye <span class="title">Hello World</span><br/> … welcome back, <H1>,<H2>,<H3>
  • Unordered list bullets! What a nightmare it is to replace default bullets with custom images… a nice solution was to use our friend background:url

Having just finished reading Mr. Zeldman’s book on Web Standards, believe me, I’ve seen the light. It’s really a shift in thinking for a whole industry of people like me who designed and built websites in the 90s.

Actually, forget about the 90s– the project I work on now, (which is for a certain software maker located in a certain northwestern state), I routinely have to deal with and debug some of the ugliest proprietary IE code known to man. I almost feel I should apologize to this client for not fixing it for them. Sadly, that’s not what I get paid to do.

There is an elegance and beauty to coding with web standards. And Zeldman’s book is good not because it’s a total reference of all things CSS — it’s not — he assumes we all understand the basics of CSS. What’s most interesting about it is Zeldman’s explanation for why we didn’t code properly in the past, and why we must now.

I like Jason Kottke’s point that there are other considerations to designing good websites, such as good semantics and accessibility. I guess I’m heading in the right direction.

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